The Centennial School Board has given its blessing for district administration to begin not only the strategic planning process but also the achievement and integration (A&I) plan. 

Both plans are recommendations from Interim Superintendent Jeff Holmberg, provided after the district surveyed students, staff and families about school culture last spring. 

The school board reviewed the survey results at the last work session and officially authorized district staff to begin the process for a new strategic plan and to develop an A&I plan at the Sept. 27 meeting. (For more information about the survey, see “Results in for community survey, district looks ahead” in the Sept. 21 issue.) 

As a part of Holmberg’s recommendations, the board also decided to postpone the hiring of the equity coordinator position and not move forward with a joint powers agreement with Equity Alliance Minnesota and an equity audit. 

The district last implemented a strategic plan back in 2016 that identified eight goals. Holmberg explained that the process would include both a strategic planning team and stakeholder focus groups. The plan will identify a mission, vision and strategic directions/goals. 

School Board Chair Suzy Guthmueller explained that it was time for the district to update its strategic plan, as it is five years old. Districts usually update their plans every three to five years. 

“Us doing a strategic plan means we are going to be involving the community like we have in the past. We are going to be involving staff, students …” she said. “We will come up with strategies again that are good for our schools, student achievement and moving our students forward.” 

School Board Director Stephanie Carlson said she would like to make sure the district is purposeful in selecting members of the focus groups. “We need to make sure that the focus groups involved in our strategic planning include representatives from all of the diverse populations that we serve in our district so that we make sure we get everyone’s voice in the matter,” she said. “I hope that we can think of a very thoughtful way of how to reach out to the different populations within our community.” 

The district will also start to develop an A&I plan through the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). According to MDE, the purpose of the A&I program is to pursue racial and economic integration, increase student achievement, create equitable educational opportunities and reduce academic disparities based on students’ diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds in Minnesota public schools. 

“We are one of the only school districts around that are not taking advantage of this opportunity,” Guthmueller explained. 

A&I revenue is 70% state aid and 30% local levy. (For more information, visit https://education.mn.gov/mde/dse/acint.)

The plan requires that the district form a partnership with a neighboring district. School board members had questions about what that partnership would entail, and if Centennial would lose some control over the plan if another partner is involved. 

Holmberg explained that each district has its own plan; however, districts can combine efforts where it makes sense, such as professional development opportunities or student activities. 

School Board Director Tom Knisely said the district’s efforts need to be focused on high achievement and high academic standards. “I want all students to have success, and I think it is important that we identify those that feel left out, or those who are not enjoying success, and find out the reasons why,” he said. “I’m not comfortable with anything that doesn’t focus on academic achievement.” 

The strategic planning process will kick off this fall and likely be complete this January or February. As for the A&I plan, that will be developed for the 2022-23 school year. Both plans will have many checkpoints along the way, and eventually require board approval. The A&I plan will also need to be approved by MDE. 

 

Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or quadnews@presspubs.com.

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